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PoliticsPA’s Ups & Downs: 2011 Edition

It’s been an interesting year in the great state of Pennsylvania. State Republicans found out that being in charge of everything doesn’t necessarily make governing easier; new redistricting maps made most incumbents safer, and a Pa. institution was consumed by a sex abuse scandal of tragic proportion.

Here are the winners and losers of 2011.

Democrats. It’s going to be much harder the the party to get back into the majority in any capacity after redistricting this year. The taste is even more bitter for your average Joe Dem because of how many Democrats were complicit in the new state and congressional maps (see prior ‘Downs’ here and here). Plus they lost a dozen county courthouses net.

Bob Casey. The Senator’s re-election calculus has been solid so far: keep his chin down, talk about “jobs” every 5 minutes, and don’t pick fights. It’s paid off. He’ll likely announce around $4 mil cash on hand in a few days. Meanwhile, the GOP primary field is muddled and without a top tier general election candidate – including no sitting office holder.

Pat Toomey. It’s not every day that a freshman Senator makes the kind of national headlines that Toomey did this fall on the supercommittee. Though it failed, he was the only member to offer a credible proposal (that even increased revenues). He’d had the reputation of a deal broker between the conservative and moderate wings of the Senate GOP; now he has the credibility of a serious bipartisan negotiator.

Penn State. The sex-abuse scandal dominated state and national news for a month; even institution Joe Paterno couldn’t weather the storm.  The political climate already made it tough to increase PSU’s state funding or even keep it level – hence the budget cuts. It will be nearly impossible now.

Harrisburg. It’s been a rough yeah for the capital of the Keystone state. The legislature changed the rules mid-game with a state takeover, and the city’s creditors have far less incentive to compromise. Mayor Linda Thompson continues to be a less than inspiring figure, and after all that the city was shuffled and split by redistricting and reapportionment.

Josh Shapiro. Smart campaign and a good message. The soon-to-be majority Commissioner led the transition of Montgomery from Republican to Democrat for the first time in County history. PoliticsPA called Shapiro the Dem most likely to be Governor some day, and he’s well on his way.

Luke Ravenstahl. From pensions to parking meters, he has earned the reputation of a Mayor who isn’t showing up. His whole slate of contended Pittsburgh city council candidates lost. The broad consensus is that he would lose a two-way primary in 2013, and several strong candidates have already emerged.

Tom Corbett and the GOP state legislature. Dennis Owens got it right: there’s not much to show after a year of total GOP control of state government. Some very big ticket agenda items were left off the docket and look like long shots in the spring. The year’s biggest bragging point, an on-time budget with “no” tax increases, is less than impressive.

School Vouchers. Speaking of, this was one of the most ambitious GOP agenda items and an intense focus of donors and conservative activists all year. Enough Republicans defected at the end of fall session to defeat a vouchers proposal, as well as a plan to expand the EITC program and charter schools. Those aren’t going to get any easier in an election year.

Orie sisters. After a few years of ambiguous legal status, the corruption charges have finally caught up with the Orie clan. It’s looking rough for Janine and Senator Jane, and there is serious speculation that Pa. Supreme Court Justice Joan could be next.

Lou Barletta and Tom Marino. All incumbents got boosted by redistricting, but these were the two big winners. GOP map-drawers in Harrisburg went out of their way to shore up the NEPA congressmen, who may now have more to worry about from a primary than a general.

10 Responses

  1. Can’t raise revenues without tax increases or closing loop holes. Tax increases should be on the table.

  2. Ed, you apparently don’t understand economics. If you watched Toomey question Doug Elmendorf you’d know he’s correct. Or are you just a keynesian fan? Also, that guy has no evidence to back up his accusations regarding Bruce Castor.

  3. I can’t believe anyone would repeat Pat Toomey’s lies that his proposal for the super committee would have raised revenues at lower income tax rates (playing the deduction canard) when the spending cuts to Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid woul have taken money out of the larger economy, and reducing demand in that economy and causing higher unemployment. Maybe Toomey doesn’t understand that when you take in less, your deficits are higher. He really should invest in Paul Samuelson’s Economics: An Introductory Analysis

  4. Bob Guzzardi, do you have any evidence to support your claim against DA Ferman and Comm. Castor? Isn’t it possible, probable even, that Castor complained about Matthews’ activities often. That generated news stories. That generated interest from the DA. That generated a Grand Jury. That generated Matthews lying under oath. That generated a recommendation for perjury charges. That generated an arrest warrant. That generated an arrest. That generated handcuffs on the way to be arraigned? If you have proof of your claims, say what it is. I’m guessing you don’t. I’m guessing the DA knew blowhards like you would make such claims and carefully documented everything for use at trial to defeat them. You make these very serious allegations now. When they prove false, will you say you’re sorry? Aren’t you a lawyer, Bob? If you actually believe what you say, you are obligated to report the DA and the Commissioner to the legal board, aren’t you? But you won’t. Why? Because they would make you show proof. Which you don’t have, do you?

  5. Some Commissioners and legislators like being in the minority. I am sure Potts can comment on how much DeWeese relished his lack of accountablity. And Vince Fumo was the master. So is Castor any different?

  6. Obsessed with personalities, Bruce Castor engineered the charges and the public handcuffing of Jim Matthews with the connivance of MontCo DA and Castor protege, Risa Ferman. Jim Matthews was not, and is not, a candidate for any office.

    It is surprising that Bonusgate where the Ds misused (to be polite) $1.8 million taxpayer money and Computergate where Republicans misused
    $20,000,000 has generated so little outrage. Jane Orie and sister Janine do appear headed to jail. The arrogance of continuing to use office for political purposes while Bonusgate was hot Harrisburg news is astounding.

    “Equal Justice Under the Law” -Mike Veon is in jail for six years for a lot less than what Republicans were convicted for. It should be remembered that Sam Smith was either cluelessly complicit ( as he says) or criminally complicit as knowledgeable people think is REPUBLICAN speaker and a complicit Republican Caucus, unanimously, voted him in.

    By the way, the Forgotten Taxpayer would like the House Republicans and the House Democrats to repay what they took.

    For exemplary coverage see CasablancaPa

  7. I think the General Assembly should be put in the negative column because of the loss of some of their most thoughtful and insightful legislators such as Doug Reichley and Josh Shapiro who sought and won other office.

  8. Come on. Jim Matthews has to be the biggest loser of the year followed closely by Joe Hoeffel. These two men looted Montgomery County for their own benefit whether monetarily, politically, or for their own cronies. They lied repeatedly about how bad they were leaving the county off financially and Matthews lied to a grand jury and got arrested. They trashed the good name of former DA Bruce Castor their fellow commissioner who beat them both at the polls leading them to conspire against him. Now after years of abuse at their hands, it turns out that absolutely everything castor said about Matthews and Hoeffel and their arrogance, incompetence and dishonesty turned out to be true. A fact which Castor could parley into political benefit if he wished and certainly will make him a potent force in county politics again. Something recognized by Josh Shapiro and Leslie Richards as they come into office which has, at least from what we can see, has all three members of the new board playing nice. Anyway, surely Matthews is among the biggest losers. Being on TV in handcuffs is never good for your career.

  • Does the NYC Verdict Make You More or Less Likely to Vote For Trump in 2024?

    • Less Likely (36%)
    • More Likely (34%)
    • Makes No Difference (30%)

    Total Voters: 112

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